The new Zero18 is 18’2″ long with a 73″ beam and a zero-degree deadrise at the transom. Resting draft varies from about 4″ for a minimalist build with a 40 hp tiller to about 7″ with a center console, 70 hp engine, all the extras, full fuel and wells, and two men. Draft specs are notoriously inexact, but the Zero18 is an extremely skinny skiff for its size.
It was designed to meet the demands of our home waters: Mosquito Lagoon. That means minimal poling and planing draft and fast, shallow holeshots; exceptional poling characteristics and no hull slap for approaching our well-educated fish; clean, roomy decks for fly casting; effective spray rails for windy afternoon runs back across open waters; and, in our case, enough space to comfortably fish three anglers.
We achieved the draft we wanted by combining a zero-deadrise bottom with state-of-the-art, lightweight materials and techniques. All parts are vacuum-infused with vinylester resin and cored with specific density foam. No wood is used.
Additionally, the three-piece Zero18 employs a bonded butt joint — as opposed to the more common shoebox joint — between hull and cap. The butt joint requires a more exact fit between parts but yields greater strength and rigidity and a cleaner, more finished appearance with no visible trim edge.
In engineering the Zero18, we re-examined every detail, taking nothing for granted. For example, all hinges are concealed beneath the hatches. Gutters drain water directly overboard — not into the bilge or cockpit — via hidden openings under the integrated spray rails. The console door and frame are molded, color-matched parts; no fasteners are visible.
Forward of the ergonomically designed center console, a fully finished heavily insulated 35-quart fiberglass jump seat/cooler locks in place via an innovative, hidden retention system free of moving parts. It can be easily moved to the bow to serve as a casting platform.
An optional large forward livewell can be built with a transparent, half-inch acrylic window in the forward bulkhead — a staple on large sportfishers but a first, as far as we’re aware, on shallow-water skiffs.
At the bow, an optional rope locker is offset to starboard making room to mount a trolling motor while also concealing a cleat and serving as a dry spot to install a trolling motor plug.
There are no fuses on the boat; only resettable breakers are used. Wiring is logical and clean, and batteries are mounted in custom-machined aluminum trays.
The Zero18 also offers a completely customizable deck layout. Because our deck mold has no hatches built into it, we can place a variety of hatches, lockers, and live and pitch wells wherever you want them without the excessive cost typically associated with one-off customizations.
Here’s what veteran boat designer and Hell’s Bay Boatworks co-founder, Chris Morejohn said after reviewing this process:
His deck mold has no hatches molded into it. This means that he can move his separate hatch molds where ever he or the clients want them. Because of his perfect moldings he just puts the finished part on the deck mold. He then gelcoats the deck around this part, and when it cures this part is then glassed in as part of the deck. When it’s all pulled out of the mold all he has to do is just trim and slightly buff in the transition edge of these two parts. To me this is brilliant.
This Zero18 is the second prototype produced during more than two years of exhaustive R&D. Production is slated to begin in late 2017.